Ready Trek: Space Exploration: Serpens Sector

By Kieron Gillen on May 7th, 2009 at 9:19 am.

Make it So

On my list of Games I’d Like People To Make is a space-ship- set RPG in the vein of Star Control. Exploration, team-management, bullying team-members into hunting down defenceless alien monkeys and selling them for gold. That kind of thing. So the alliterative space game Space Exploration: Serpens Sector caught my eye, which is a lo-fi but robust take on the genre. It’s currently in development, with its creator releasing builds sporadically to garner feedback. The plan is apparently to release the main game for free, then charge from add-on packs, which seems an interesting way of going about things. You can try out the latest build here and tell him what you make of it over here.

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22 Comments »

  1. Gauntt says:

    I too dream of a good space exploration game. Something that captures the vastness of space, making you feel all alone. Then allows you to stumble onto amazing races and planets.

    Checked this out a while ago may have to do so again.

  2. BooleanBob says:

    Yes yes yes yes! Star Control 2… with a bridge simulator!

    This would make me a *happy camper* (oblig.).

  3. pauleyc says:

    I love Star Control 2. Too bad they never made any sequels…

  4. marilena says:

    I’ve tried the demo and, while obviously it needs more work, it’s quite a nice game. It’s a lot like Strange Adventures in Infinite Space / Weird Worlds, but, on the one hand, less good looking and, on the other, a lot more expansive and non-generic.

    There seem to be many interesting events that also interact with each other on cool ways. In my best game yet, I found a scientist on a planet and an assassin bot on another. Then, on another planet, the local king asked me to come along with a friend and a gift, but then got angry at the gift and killed my cohort (I had picked the guest scientist to come with me, hoping for some revelations on the locals; he got killed :(). Luckily, I had taken the assassin bot with me and set it on Protect, so he killed everyone and helped me get away. Really cool stuff.

    Also, space battles are turn based and I like them more than the ones in Weird Worlds.

    And you have crew members and stuff.

    What works very badly is the fuel mechanic. You receive fuel from HQ based on what you find, but you have to turn home in order to do this, which wastes fuel in itself. And very often you just don’t find enough good stuff to get enough fuel to go on, especially as most systems are far away. It would help if at least the starting system would be in the center of the galaxy, but this is not the case, it’s in a corner.

    The game ends when you run out of fuel, which tends to happen after you’ve explored the few systems around the starting point.

    I’ve only played a handful of games and each one was better than the previous one, so it may improve even further.

    Anyway, it looks like a game I would like to play when finished.

  5. Jazmeister says:

    Demo? Don’t you mean “development preview?” I’m so glad the development beta is in open preview alert level 5.

    (EDIT: See, this is my problem with quotes. That looks like the quote was originally a question; i’m just using it in a question. It should be “?;’”, like that)

  6. marilena says:

    Ah, yeah, sorry, it’s not exactly a demo, it’s basically the game in its current state.

    And it’s already quite fun, really. I enjoyed it, I just wished it would last a bit more, just like I wished Weird Worlds was a bit deeper too.

  7. lumpi says:

    Yes, I like it.

    Probably more an adventure/RPG than a traditional combat/trading sim.

  8. Dolphan says:

    Jazmeister – put the ? outside the quotes. Difference between: – He said “three hundred quid?” and – He said “three hundred quid”?

  9. Lorc says:

    That’s the difference between American (punctuation always goes inside the quote marks) and English (Punctuation goes where it makes the most sense) style rules, isn’t it?

  10. Adrian says:

    omg that alien looks like an ugly potato! http://www.metalbeetle.com/spaceexploration/display_image.php?id=9

  11. Cian says:

    I agree with Marilena for the most part, but I think the fuel dynamic is supposed to encourage you to find an alternative source of supply. In my last game I could trade big buckets off gold for a decent amount of fuel in a planet I found early on.
    I like the game alot, I wish I could select crew in a similar way to Dwarf Fortress though.

  12. marilena says:

    Agreed Cian, selecting your crew would also be nice.

    I don’t agree as much about the fuel, because there are no guarantees you’ll find a source, or anything interesting on the planets, for that matter. And it just feels like you always fail. Apparently, it used to have a system where you were simply limited in time, which you knew from the start, so you knew when you were getting close to the end. That seems much less frustrating to me.

  13. LionsPhil says:

    The concept seems familiar to Strange Adventures in Infinite Space.

  14. Mad Doc MacRae says:

    This game is unflinchingly difficult. :/ Or I’m just unlucky.

  15. marilena says:

    @LionsPhil
    Yeah, it’s very similar. Not as professional looking, but better is some ways.

    @Mad Doc Mcrae
    I don’t know if it’s difficult or it misrepresents itself with the way you keep ‘losing’.

  16. Xhumar says:

    This game is really good, though incomplete. I really think more people should take a look at it

  17. David Stark says:

    Hi, this is the developer of SE:SS, who has been watching this thread with interest.
    A number of people have told me that to them, it feels that if you don’t reach all the stars, you have failed – which is totally not the idea. You’ve failed if your ship blows up, or if you do so badly your score is negative.
    But I understand that the game gives the impression that you have to reach all the stars – hence, a lot of feedback I’ve received also says that there’s not enough fuel. But I feel that if the game always gave you enough fuel for everything, it would not present much of a challenge anymore.
    Hence, I would like to ask you if you have any suggestions on how to better impart the idea that reaching all stars is a, er, “stretch goal”, and that reaching half of them and finding some good artefacts still constitutes a win?

  18. David Christie says:

    Well, I just finished playing a few games and really enjoyed them. I like the randomness and I actually like not getting to choose your crew, it seems like the game is really about making do with what you get given. In my third game I thought “oh damn I didn’t get an archaeologist” but then I found one on a planet who wanted to join my crew, it was great!

    I do feel like a sense of accomplishment is missing from the game, and that I keep “losing” when I run out of fuel. Ideally I’d like to see each game be larger, perhaps with multiple HQ points, but I guess that depends on how much content you can generate. Another idea is to give the player accomplishable goals ie explore x amount of planets; reach this planet; make peace with x amount of alien civilisations.

  19. marilena says:

    Hi David, in case you’re still reading.

    I think that perhaps the initial system, where you had a set time and you knew it from the start (which is also the system that SAIIS and WW use), made the end feel less like a failure. It made it clear that your goal was to get the best score in the time you were given, while the fuel system makes you feel you didn’t use the fuel well enough.

    To be honest, I do wonder if the whole idea of limiting the player’s time in a map is so great. You always feel rushed and dissatisfied with not knowing what was one the planets you missed. I don’t see what you gain by putting this limit in. I would consider allowing the player to see everything in the galaxy, adding some more mobile entities (like the commerce alien guys) and perhaps an end-game event that sets off in certain conditions (tied to the player’s progress somehow).

  20. Monele says:

    Sweet! Very promising. A “Weird Worlds with depth” is something I’ve been waiting for for quite some time :D

  21. LeBomb says:

    I just “completed” the game, by that i mean managed to explore every planet…and to be honest it was an anti-climax…don’t think i can go back and play it now…it’s better for being incompletable, it’s that continual failure that makes it a repeat player, much like rogues style games with their random dungeons, you are just forging on until you die and the unpredictable adventures between start and finish are what make it worth while.
    Now if there was a landing on planets mode which turned into a rogue style planet surface exploration on top of that then you could beam me down forever!!

  22. Rowanthepreacher says:

    I’ve already played and left feedback, but yeah, if it had an extra layer rather than extra planets, I would never sleep or talk to another real human being ever again. The layers were something I liked so much in MOOII (Master of Orion 2). And if this evolved into a multilayered game, I would go nuts for it. That would also relax the whole “I must reach every planet” thing, because it would be a vast achievement just to entirely ma out one!